The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be delivering Channel 4’s Christmas Day message.
Since 1993, the broadcater has opted out of the Queen’s traditional Christmas Day broadcast, instead allowing a diverse range of voices to address the nation.
Previous messages have been delivered by Quentin Crisp, Sharon Osbourne and Marge Simpson.
The President has previously called for the State of Israel to be wiped off the face of the earth and claimed that no gays exist in Iran. In reality, the Iranian state routinely executes gay people, including teenagers.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay rights group Stonewall, told the Press Association:
“I think President Ahmadinejad should celebrate the fact that he can appear on television to give a message like this.
“In spite of his ridiculous and often offensive views, it is an important way of reminding him that there are some countries where free speech is not repressed.
“If it serves that purpose, then Channel 4 will have done a significant public service.
“We look forward to President Ahmadinejad giving someone the opportunity to appear on Iranian national television to make similarly counter-intuitive points very shortly.”
But gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, writing on PinkNews.co.uk said: “Channel 4 should pull the plug on this criminal despot, who ranks with Robert Mugabe, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and the Burmese military junta as one of the world’s most bloody rulers.
“Channel 4’s Controller of News and Current Affairs Dorothy Byrne together with the other Channel 4 executives would not being giving Ahmadinejad this propaganda coup if it was their partners or children who were being tortured in Evin prison, Tehran.”
Dorothy Byrne defended her decision to ask President Ahmadinejad to deliver the message: “As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad’s views are enormously influential.
“As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view.
“Channel 4 has devoted more airtime to examining Iran than any other broadcaster and this message continues a long tradition of offering a different perspective on the world around us.”